Renaissance Man

This weekend, I took a photography class from a friend who is an outstanding photographer.

He started in the beginning with how photographs are actually made, starting with the infamous “pinhole” camera.

I asked him to teach me about cameras because I want to learn to take better photographs.

For this blog and elsewhere.

And I admired his style and skill with a camera.

I learned all about apertures, f-stops and depth of field.

I learned about ISO and how higher ISO can capture images but also lose resolution, hence the need to play with exposure time and f-stop.

I discovered that you can play around with things like focal points to achieve dramatic results – such as a face that is in focus while the background is illuminated yet slightly out-of-focus creating a soft look.

Don’t worry.

I may not be explaining it well, but I took good notes and soon I’ll have my own camera to play around with.

Just as a side note, my friend took a look at my truck which had its “check engine” light on.

He figured out that I needed a new MAP (Manifold Air Pressure) sensor.

And he discovered that at one point mice were living in my air filter because they left behind EXCREMENT.

UGH!

That got cleaned up REAL FAST.

He also showed me the 5 week old kittens living in his shed and the rescue dog in his house named (I’ve been assured appropriately) Loki.

I’d love to take any foster pets from my friend and his wife but sadly, my living situation doesn’t allow.

Despite the fact that I CLEARLY am in need of rodent control at my house.

And for your viewing pleasure – a picture of the rodent poo in the air filter of my truck.

Eeeewwwwwww!

Kitten pictures would’ve been much nicer!

Queen

It’s my favorite time of year – the build-up from Halloween, and my birthday to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Needless to say I do not suffer from season affective disorder, though I know a few people who do and it’s a terrible thing to have happen.

I love the holidays.

I EVEN love holiday music.

Yes, I’m one of THOSE people.

I think my love of the holidays comes from my mother.

Growing up, we’d decorate, cook, and listen to Christmas music during the holiday season.

I remember Mom would put on Christmas music and we’d bake cookies and pies until the dining room table was FILLED WITH TREATS!

This year I’m doing what I did last year and I’m QUILTING for the holidays.

My work shuts down for two weeks during the holidays and it’s the PERFECT time to start a quilting project.

This time, I’m looking at two quilt patterns:

The trick is that I really should make the Spruced Goose quilt because I have all the supplies to make it.

However, it’s a gift for a friend and the Star Gazing quilt is actually a more appropriate color scheme for her.

So I’m stuck.

Do I make the quilt that’s better for her or the one I’ve got all the supplies for?

Oh, the dilemma.

Turns out, I may just try to make both and decide what to do with them later.

Also, I have THIS quilt top which needs to be finalized and I haven’t created the backing for it yet so maybe I’ll finish THREE QUILTS this holiday season.

What can I say?

I am a quilt making QUEEN!

The Highland Games

imageThere was once a time in my life when I was embedded in the Highland Games circuit.  I went to a Games every weekend and watched the heavy athletics, the bands, and the living history show.

But those times were long ago.  Although going to this Highland Games did make me a little nostalgic for my ex Steve, who was a superb Highland athlete with a whopping 56″ chest.  Ah, I miss that chest!

In any case, I went to this game with my BFF, her boyfriend, and two other friends with their boyfriends, making me the whopping 7th wheel.  But we all had fun.

 

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We checked out the Birds of Prey display and hit up the Whisky Tasting Room to try a few single malts (Oban, Lagavulin, and Laphroig were my favorites).  We also checked out the shinty exhibition game, the heavy athletics, the bands massing, and the food vendors.

All in all, a fabulous time, considering I managed to sample over 12 kinds of whisky and not get wasted.  Plus I got to hear 600+ pipers play Amazing Grace so beautifully, the hair on my arms stood up.

Here’s a few pics from the afternoon.  Hope you like!

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Birthday!

My birthday is coming up!

Last year I hosted a Bohemian Rhapsody themed birthday party at the premiere of Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddie Mercury biopic.

Two years before that, I hosted a pirate’s pub crawl in Campbell with my friends.

All very fun.

This year, I’m going to my aunt and uncle’s house in Castro Valley to celebrate a late Halloween party.

I’m dressing up as a Lizzo-inspired performer.

Quite frankly, that’s as close as I can get to that bad ass bitch.

I’m excited, however.

Getting another year older is NBD.

It’s a luxury denied to many so I remind myself as I start to feel my creaking knees and spot gray hair on my head that I should be thrilled.

Lord knows that but for the grace of God, or the unraveling of the universe, I might not be where I am today.

Celebrating my birthday with family and friends.

I plan to celebrate my birthday for as long as I can and see as many friends and family as possible.

It’s just a BONUS that there’s costumes involved.

Woot!

Who needs a man?

All right.

Let’s suppose for just an instance that I have taken myself off Tinder and am no longer meeting single guys (or married guys who PRETEND they are single).

What’s a woman to do with all her free time if she’s not chatting up men?

Good question. . .

I have absolutely nothing going on this weekend except for dinner plans with a friend.

I had the FORESIGHT to know I’d need some downtime after several weeks of mini road trips.

Especially since next weekend I’m heading to a housewarming party in Monterey followed by a trip to the Renaissance Faire at Casa de Fruita.

I really should throw myself into my activities, the way I did when I was driving race cars, running with the bulls, and kayaking with whales.

Nadine has suggested that I find some meet ups to go to.

She’ll even go with me.

But that’s just more of me trying to meet someone and I really feel like I need a break from all of the noise it’s brought into my life.

I’ve done quite a bit of activities in the Bay Area in the past – from taking beer making classes to whale watching with Barbara and some adult content activities like attending a burlesque show with Yvonne.

So I might have to repeat some of the oldies but goodies.

A few things I haven’t tried yet are:

  • Bocce Ball
  • Cooking School
  • Trivia Night
  • Food Tour of SF (various cuisines)
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Adventure Course
  • Sushi School
  • Wine School
  • Geocaching
  • Hiking Trails
  • Laser Light Show
  • Brewery Tour
  • Fused Glass Class
  • Wine Blending
  • Improv Class
  • Golf Lessons
  • Horseback Riding
  • Mixology Class
  • Photography Class

It’s also been a few years since I did a boudoir shoot, so it may be time to revisit THAT adventure.

Honestly, I’m tempted the most by photography, glass and horseback riding.

Who needs a man when you have hobbies?

I’m reminded of a well-known social psychologist who gave me the following advice when I told him I was getting divorced 14 years ago:

Get some hobbies.  Volunteer.

From his lips to God’s ears.

If someone who makes $15,000 speaking to the NFL on self-efficacy is going to give me life advice, I’m gonna take it.

If I’m shinin’ everybody gonna shine. . .

For Halloween, I want to make a Lizzo-inspired costume

I mean OBVIOUSLY as a white chick, there’s nothing I can do about my skin tone.

But her ICONIC STYLE?

Definitely right up my alley.

This dress from the BETs is quite inspirational and I LOVE THE IDEA of getting dressed up in a wedding gown style and emulating not just Lizzo but also Madonna and Britney Spears.

I found something similar on Fashion Nova, not exactly the skirt and bustier combo I was looking for, but CLOSE:

Of course, I need to accessorize with a white lacy veil, square black sunglasses, white sneakers and FLUTE:

And there you have it – a Lizzo-inspired Halloween costume.

If I’m shinin’ everybody gonna shine. . .

This dating thing isn’t going so well

The dating thing isn’t going so well for me and I think a break is in order.

I’ve gone on dates with:

  • Virtually mute introverts
  • Men who spend $1000 on a date
  • Severe Selsen Blue flakes
  • Perverts, and not the good kind
  • Offensively racist men
  • Men who rejected me because of this blog
  • Newly divorced and bitter men
  • Divorced for a long time and still bitter men
  • Not divorced at all men (Surprise!)
  • 47 year old re-virgins

It’s all been very entertaining but also a little disheartening.  I confess I’m really fed up with online dating and am ready to try blind dates and set ups.

Or nothing at all.

Yes, this eternal optimist is more than a little disappointed and frustrated right now.  So frustrated I actually called a matchmaker and looked into getting set up  by a matchmaker.  But that little venture would cost $1900.  Um…. no thanks.

But today my 18 year kid provided me with a ray of sunlight in my dim dating life.

“It’s better to be single anyway.  That way you don’t have to buy anyone Valentine’s gifts on Valentine’s Day…”

Wisdom from a the mouths of babes.

The Endurance

A few years ago I took a survival course in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Among other things, I learned to build a debris shelter and start a fire with string, wood, and shavings.

I think it’s important to know some basic survival skills.

Granted, I’m not hiking anywhere besides well-traveled Bay Area hiking trails, but still. . .

I can hopefully help myself live long enough to be rescued, if I ever got lost in the woods.

Not surprisingly, I have a deep affection for survival stories.

My favorite survival story and the one I shared with my kids is the survival story of Ernest Shakleton and The Endurance.

Ernest Shakleton, an Antarctic explorer, got trapped in the ice during his expedition to cross Antarctica and somehow HE AND HIS WHOLE CREW managed to survive and be rescued two years after they set sail, thanks to his heroic efforts which included navigating the 720 nautical-mile open-boat journey to South Georgia Island where there was a whaling station.

[Note:  Shakleton actually landed on the WRONG side of the island and had to traverse the island to get rescued.]

It’s an AMAZING story of leadership.

In addition to having a small obsession with the story of The Endurance, I also have a thing for Mt. Everest.

How I’d love to hike to base camp in the Himalayas!

And that’s a far as I’d go.

At 26,000 feet, the human body starts to slowly die and the altitudes above 26,000 feet are known as “The Death Zone.”

The latest book I’m reading is called “The Greatest Survival Stories Ever Told:  Seventeen Incredible Tales.”

More stories of adversity, survival and human triumph, both fiction and non-fiction?!

Well color me happy!

People are TRULY INCREDIBLE!

Big Sexy Weekend!

It’s been quite a week for me, and we’re only on Tuesday.

I’ve had to recycle some blog posts because I’ve been so busy.

The Big Sexy Weekend was a BIG HUGE SUCCESS.

First, Nadine and I stopped in Port Costa for a drink at the local pub.

It turns out I didn’t even KNOW Port Costa existed, but now I know it’s there and you can stay in a hotel which was formerly a bordello.

Incidentally, the difference between a bordello and a brothel, is that a bordello is usually a higher-class establishment.

I looked it up out of curiosity.

We went on to Sacramento and hit Big Sexy Brewing for beers.

Nadine had stout, I drank Belgian golden ale.

Both were delicious and MUCH beer was imbibed.

As a bonus, the Blue Angels were flying overhead and so we enjoyed an impromptu air show while we were there.

There was a dunk tank (I managed to miss every time), a hoop performer doing a dance with LED hoops, and a woman who danced with long silk fans.

It was amazing.

The band that played (and sorry am I that I have forgotten their name) was something else.

The lead singer had a voice like Bob Dylan – all raspy, like he gargles with glass/

The music was a combination of influences including Southern Rock, Jimi Hendrix, and more.

All in all, a good time was had by all and I didn’t even mind that at some point in the evening a truckload of firemen showed up.

BONUS!

Who doesn’t enjoy attractive men in tight blue shirts?!

Not me!

Old Lady

I have an interesting hobby for a 45 year old woman.

I quilt.

I’ve been quilting for 20 years and because of this, my Instagram feed show a lot of work in progress quilts and finished quilts.

My Instagram is linked to my Tinder account so all the men I match with can see my handiwork.

Some of my quilts turned out quite beautiful, like this one I made for Barbara over Christmas break last year and one I made for family friends who lost their son with a pattern called
Storm at Sea:

If you were to ask me what kind of art do I make, I’d tell you I’m into textile arts.

I LOVE my quilts and every single one I’ve made has been donated to friends or family, with a lot of love.

It takes time and patience and a little bit of serendipity to turn fabric by the yard into a pieced quilt.

I proud of the work I do.

So you can imagine my surprise when someone on Tinder MADE FUN of my quilting.

“Wouldn’t know you’re 45 except for the quilting,” he texted me.

I defended myself, saying that I make modern quilts, not grandma quilts.

He replied by saying, “All quilts are grandma quilts.”

So, I present to you my impression of a grandma quilt and my impression of a modern quilt and you tell me if you can’t tell the difference:

Needless to say, homeboy didn’t get too far in seducing me.

Women don’t take kindly to being aged beyond their years and just because I make quilts DOES NOT make me a grandma.

Hmph!